Menstruation in Film:
Generally, when movies depict people using restrooms or bathrooms they show women going to apply makeup, and men going to urinate. Anything to do with women actually using toilets is almost never depicted in movies.
‘Juno’ is the only movie I’ve seen show a woman/girl actually urinating (however the purpose was to take a pregnancy test, not to merely relieve Juno’s bladder).
Similarly, anything to do with menstruation is almost never depicted in movies. The only movie I think I’ve seen menstruation depicted in is ‘Osama’ (a film about a girl disguised as a boy in Afganistan). In that film, the menstruation scene was critical to the development of the plot.
Apparantly the new film ‘The Runaways’, starring Dakota Fanning, also depicts menstruation (when Dakota Fanning’s character gets her period for the first time). It’s great that that film is willing to depict menstruation, especially the first time a girl gets her period (because that is a very significant, and often embarrassing, time). However, I wish more films would show the more ‘mundane’ periods – the ones that occur every month for most women.
Menstruation in Advertisements:
The only time menstruation is mentioned on TV is on advertisements for pads and tampons (sanitary napkins). Actresses on those ads usually wear white, and there is never any sign of blood or anything red. These ads label periods as gross, icky, and embarrassing – they give a strong message that periods are taboo and dirty, and that they should be kept discrete and hidden (at all costs).
Making menstruation, period pain, and female urination unmentionable on TV does nothing to break the discomfort my culture has when it comes to talking about menstruation.